unexplained fish deaths - any ideas? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-10-2012, 12:09 PM Thread Starter
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unexplained fish deaths - any ideas?

the tank is the 36 gal in my sig. Lots o plants, water is consistently 0/0/10 (my well water has that 10 out of the tap), very soft (0 - had to add Epson salts) and slightly acidic (6.6 to 6.8).

78 degrees steady temp wven with no heater with current weather.

Additives: Excel daily at recommended dosage, Flourish Comp once a week, Tetra FloraPride at WC (every 2-3 weeks).

Food: algae wafers, flake, mini pellets. feed 1x a day

Fauna: Amano shrimp, RCS, ottos, pygmy corys, chili rasboras, cardinals.

The problem - bought the following from a Petsmart: 6 platies (3 red wag, 3 sunburst), and from a different Petsmart - 2 black molly, 2 'creamsicle' Lyre tail molly, 1 Betta (blue with red, HUGE veil type fins)

For a few days, everything is great. Even the betta is very low key, loves exploring in the plants, even occasionally hovers in the filter outlet with the mollies - never saw a Betta
do that before. Can't imagine keeping one in a small container aftr seeing one in a real tank.

A few days in a liretail manages to jump out of the tank, between the heater and the hood. Look perfect, not even a nipped fin (and he was the biggest fish in the tank).

next day, one platy is dead in the plants.

2 days later, the other lyretail is draped over a plant sideways, limp and dead.

2 days after that, the Betta is head down in a plant, dead.

All of the dead fish look perfect, no ich, no white/fungus spots, color perfect, fins undamaged, no sign of fighting. all seemed active and eating the day before except the platy (which hide in the back)

The odd thing - the other fish are fine, the shrimp are active, snails are doing their thing, even have some fry in the weeds and rocks! (looks like platy).

I'm at a loss, any ideas? Wife is afraid to look in the tank anymore.


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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-10-2012, 12:13 PM
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I know you dosed the recommended amount but how much is that?

How many of each fish do you have


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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-10-2012, 12:18 PM
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I always understood mollies and platies needed some extra minerals from aquarium salt.
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-10-2012, 01:06 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Sethjohnson30 View Post
I know you dosed the recommended amount but how much is that?

How many of each fish do you have


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The label is 1ml per 10 gallon. That would put me at 3.6 ml, I've only been doing 2ml a day.


10 Cards
8 chilis
3 pymy cory
6 otto
handful of RCS
5 amano shrimp
5 platies
2 black molly


rather over-filtered too - a Fluval 406 canister with Purigen on 36 gallon.


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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-10-2012, 02:17 PM
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Did you check ammonia and nitrites? Perhaps you overwhelmed the filtration with the new additions.


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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-10-2012, 02:25 PM
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Your water is very soft.
You dosed Epsom salt, which is a source of magnesium only to alter the test result.
You should not aim for a test result, but to properly alter the water.
There is little to no calcium in the water.

I would add calcium in any form to the water and alter your stocking list:

Mollies and Platies are hard water fish. Mollies can even live in sea water. If these are the fish you want to keep, then alter the GH by using a calcium and magnesium supplement like Equilibrium or similar material. Get the GH at least 9 German degrees of hardness.

If you want to keep soft water fish (most Cories, Tetras, Barbs, Rasboras, Ottos, many other fish) then use the same product (calcium and magnesium) but less of it to get the GH to about 3 German degrees of hardness.

I am not sure if that is the optimum value for shrimp, I think it depends on which shrimp you are keeping.

Most plants are pretty adaptable, but they must have some calcium in the water. The plants may have removed whatever trace of calcium was in the water. If you can get the GH to about 3 degrees the plants will do better, too.
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-10-2012, 02:35 PM Thread Starter
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Is plain baking soda (Calcium carbonate) acceptable?


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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-10-2012, 02:56 PM
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Baking soda is not calcium carbonate.

It is sodium bicarbonate. This will raise the KH, and perhaps your tank needs that, too. But it is not a source of calcium.

If you have calcium carbonate you might have it in the form of mineral supplements for humans, like a vitamin, but pure calcium carbonate. The label may also say 'from oyster shells'. Very hard to dissolve, but it will add some calcium to the tank, and also add some carbonate (raises the KH). You might try crushing it before you add it, and try dissolving it in water, then dump it in, even if it has not fully dissolved. It will dissolve over a few hours.

You can add other things to the filter like limestone sand or gravel, oyster shell grit (sold for small caged birds like Budgies), or coral sand. I use nylon stockings as bags. They last a long time. The effect is slow, and not a good way to prep the water for water changes, but is good to stabilize conditions once the water is closer to the right levels. these materials will raise GH, KH and pH in varying amounts. They contain mostly calcium carbonate, plus some magnesium carbonate.

Here is what I would do:
Keep soft water species. Do not get fish that are not suited to your water.
Add just enough Equilibrium or similar product to keep the GH at 3 German degrees of hardness.
Monitor it closely. At that low level it is possible for the plants and fish to remove the minerals. Do frequent (weekly) water changes and make the new water to the same 3 German degrees of hardness before adding it to the tank.
Also check the KH. It also should not be zero, though that is not as critical as zero degrees of GH. Baking soda can be used to raise the KH, if needed. It does not take much at all. I run quite a few tanks where the KH is almost undetectable, but the GH in all my tanks is 4-5 degrees or higher. That is a balance between Ca and Mg, with more Ca than Mg in the water. Plants use about 3-4 parts of Ca to one part of Mg, though the ratio in the water is not too critical.
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-10-2012, 03:03 PM
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I think the fish were in the water too short a time to have died from water qualities we can measure well. Since different types of fish will react to water conditions not to their liking in different ways at different speeds, it makes me believe the various types died due to a common cause which effects most fish the same. To me the hint is the fish lingering around the output of the filter. When fish don't behave in their normal way, it makes me look for causes. I measure what I can but if I can't find a cause there, I move on to things I can't measure well.
How much water splash and movement do you have and are there any airstones, etc.?
Any film on the top of the water to block gas exchange? I think you are dealing with low O2 supply. Catfish and shrimp are better suited for low O2. Small fish sometimes survive low O2 better than larger who require more.
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-10-2012, 04:10 PM Thread Starter
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No airstones, but water surface is highly agitated. The canister output is an elbow (similar to a lily pipe) about 4 to 5 inches under water and blowing down the length of the tank. Surface looks like a rippling steam, hard to see through. It hits the opposite end of the tank and follows down the tank, you can see the plants moving a great deal, to the point i had to throttle the pump down to about 50% to keep from pushing the fish around. Only one corner of the tank is "calm", just behind the filter outlet. left that area purposely for the smaller fish to be able to reach the surface if they want to.

under the surface (lower than the outlet) things are calm but all plants have movement.

The fish at the outlet were just the "fast water" shaped fish (the mollies) and they seemed to be more interested in the outlet than the surface of the water.

Bettas are Labyrinth fish - shouldn't he have been the last thing standing in O2 depleted water?

Will try raising the outlet closer to the surface to really churn it, trying to avoid airstones (for looks and clogging)


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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-10-2012, 06:56 PM
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Sounds good enough from here. Sometimes it is hard to pin down what happens. For lack of a better theory, I guess I would go with the idea that the water does not fit the fish.
But I still have the idea that water qualities of that sort tend to weaken slowly and one might expect more slow death over time rather than several at once.

I also will admit to having moved very far away from the smaller, weaker fish types. This is very much due to my frustration with fish who suddenly show up dead. I'm now pretty much a cichlid guy as they will give me several days of acting strange before actually dying.

Agree with you on the airstones. Some like them but they bother me with the noise and appearance.
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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-11-2012, 02:08 AM
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The good rippling you describe, and the over-all water movement makes it seem that lack of oxygen was not the problem.
Fish that are needing more oxygen usually hang out right under the surface, and occasionally surface to gulp air.

At the store where you buy the fish, are they on the same water system as you?
Maybe they have harder water and the fish were not acclimated to your very soft water.
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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-12-2012, 04:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbrady33 View Post
Is plain baking soda (Calcium carbonate) acceptable?
Once added baking soda and my wisteria melted (sodium is not good for plants). I've used crushed cuddlebone for a carbonate source, submerge it into gravel/substrate.
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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-12-2012, 02:39 PM
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Sorry. Wrong item.

Last edited by PlantedRich; 09-12-2012 at 02:43 PM. Reason: wrong post
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